FAIRHAVEN, Mass. (WPRI) -- Investigators have yet to pinpoint the cause of a fire that swallowed up two well-known buildings in Fairhaven.
A century-old barn and a popular family business were both destroyed after flames broke out early Wednesday morning.
"It's always sad when we lose part of our history, and this barn has been part of Fairhaven for about 100 years," said Fairhaven Fire Chief Timothy Francis in a statement.
The fire started at about 7:30 a.m. at G. Bourne Knowles and Company, Inc., located at 267 Huttleston Ave.
Firefighters tell us they had to contend with chemicals in the building, including fertilizer.
"There's a large stream behind this building, we had to make sure there was no run off going into the stream and contaminate anywhere down the road," Chief Francis said.
It turned out that one of the firefighters was G. Bourne Knowles IV, who runs the business with his father on top of being an on-call firefighter in Fairhaven.
"They did a tremendous job, I wasn't alone fighting this," he said.
Co-workers of Knowles are impressed with how he handled the fire.
"I never really thought about what he did at night or whatever. But I watched him fight the fire and go in the office with the flames, and I appreciate him for it," said Bill Manley, tree manager.
G. Bourne Knowles III is the founder of the business, and said he's proud of his son and longtime dedicated workers.
"You know you've been doing something for 50 years in one place and things changed pretty quick here in an hour and a half, two hours."
Chief Francis also tells us that a mutual aid fire truck was involved in a crash en route to the fire.
"The driver of the automobile was injured and transported to Rhode Island Hospital and four firefighters sustained minor injuries," he said.
The blaze remains under investigation by members of the Fairhaven Fire and Police Departments, as well as state police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
"Investigators have posted the Arson Hotline number on the building, not because they have determined the fire was intentionally set, but because they hope someone may have seen something that can help them make their cause determination," said Fire Marshal Stephen Coan in a statement.
Anyone who saw or heard anything that may help the investigators is asked to contact the statewide hotline at 1-800-682-9229.
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